Internship to PPO conversion: Is there a winning formula?

I teach courses on B2B marketing, research methods, marketing analytics, and sales management. Most of the students walk into my office to seek advice on issues related to their course work. Sometimes, they have different questions as well, like the one I faced a week ago; What should I do to convert my internship into a PPO? I did offer some advice to the student and we closed our conversation.

That set me thinking; it was a great question and a very positive attitude! I started putting together some of my thoughts around what makes an intern a potential employee. What are the key markers of such interns that managers keep looking for? There are no straightforward answers, but, seemingly a set of values, skills, and behaviors does enhance the odds to get a PPO. Some of these are discussed below:

1.      Sincerity: Be sincere in everything that you do as an intern. Take your job very seriously as if you are going to make a big contribution. Let that be palpable to people around you.

2.      Punctuality: ‘First in last out’ is a good idea. Be there on time and extend your work hours for meaningful engagements. Do not just hand around.

3.      Enthusiasm: An intern must display excitement for learning opportunities. Complete each task with that spirit of learning and do not settle for anything less than a great output. Exceed expectations; that’s the keyword here.

4.      Stretch: Managers notice interns who are willing to do more, beyond the set assignments. Look for such opportunities to help/assist your mentor in any of his/her projects. Can I be of some assistance; that’s a great attitude to carry.

5.      Ask (intelligent) questions: Learn the basics on your own. Try and get information from published resources including company/customers websites. Ask questions to communicate that you want a deeper understanding. Take time and prepare your questions and do not expect ready answers. Offer your time if some data crunching or research is required to find answers.

6.      Research Skills: If you did your research method course with full involvement ( you understand what I mean), you are carrying few important skills with you. Use these skills to surprise your mentors. Appear resourceful, gather data and generate insights. Help your mentor to do things with data that he/she wanted to.

7.      Be Professional: Build relationships but respect the distance. Remember, the only way you can create value for yourself is by creating and delivering value for your mentor. You are competing with several other interns from different B-Schools; your winning mantra is to deliver superior value!

One more point: before you report for your internship ask this question to yourself; are you willing to craft a strategy to come back with a PPO? If your answer is yes, go ahead and work on your game plan. Those seven points would serve as guiding posts for you.

Best of Luck!Interns

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Flat Sales Organization on Your Mind? Consider Self-leadership Training

Leadership for the sales team is considered to be a strong predictor of sales force effectiveness. Measured in terms of objective performance, relationship performance and customer performance, sales force effectiveness is a key indicator for firm’s long-term financial performance. And, for most of the firms, the responsibility rests with the sales managers who are mandated to lead their teams to perform better, year after year. However, as businesses move into greater complexities in an uncertain environment, there are stronger pieces of evidence emerging from various studies to suggest that salespeople who are more empowered to serve their customers are likely to be better performers.

One of the more powerful ways to empower your sales force is to train them with appropriate cognitive strategies. A set of such strategies is called self-leadership strategies or SLS. There are three dimensions through which these strategies provide enough drive and motivation to salespeople so that they achieve the desired sales outcomes. These dimensions are; (a) Thought self-leadership, (b) Behaviour focused strategies, and, (c) natural rewards strategies. These strategies in a standalone form or through an interactive mechanism heighten the sense of self-efficacy (the belief that one can engage with customers with complete knowledge and skills) in salespeople and they become more confident in dealing with complex sales situation with minimal supervision.

In a 2015 paper which was published in Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, we presented the evidence to suggest that natural rewards strategies were the key driver of customer orientation in salespeople and they could achieve higher levels of performance by deploying selling skills and emotion regulation mechanism effectively. We followed up on our previous work and tested another model in our next paper (forthcoming in the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing) in 2016. Here’s what we found; thought self-leadership enhanced the self-efficacy perceptions among salespeople and they could perform at higher levels (relative to salespeople with lower thought self-leadership) by effectively using their selling skills and adaptive selling behaviors. Clearly, in both the studies which used sales force as a sample, the relationship between SLS and performance was significantly positive and this linkage was mediated by skills and behaviors deployed during the planning and execution of sales calls.

One big reason that a company should invest in SLS training for its sales force is about enhanced effectiveness. The bigger and more important reason to consider SLS training is to build a sales team which delivers sustainable and purposeful growth in sales numbers, independent of supervisory influences. Another advantage is in the form of reduced supervision cost and therefore, as your sales force moves into a higher plane of self-leadership, you can have a sales organization with lesser layers.

More speed to your sales organization!